“He just called me up out of the blue,” said Russell Feingold, new to Washington as a freshman Democratic senator from Wisconsin. “He said, ‘You seem to have a good record. Would you like to work with me?’ And I said ‘yeah.’ So I never knew exactly why he chose that moment to do it, but he did.”
They co-sponsored a bill that became known as McCain-Feingold and built alliances with advocacy groups. One ally was the watchdog group Common Cause. That brought more than a touch of irony, as its then-president, Fred Wertheimer, told NPR: “I was the person who wrote the letter to the Senate Ethics Committee that triggered the Keating Five investigation.”
Wertheimer says he and McCain never discussed that. They worked alongside many others on what McCain-Feingold would do and how they might outmaneuver Senate Republican leaders who wanted to sink the legislation.
“He was simply fearless. Nothing really fazed him,” Wertheimer said.
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